Career Information for a Degree in Animal Health Sciences

Animal science is generally a 2- or 4-year degree program that prepares graduates to work as veterinary technicians or technologists. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Essential Information

Degrees in animal science are available at the associate's and bachelor's levels. Associate's degree programs prepare graduates for careers as veterinary technicians, while graduates of bachelor's degree programs can work in more advanced positions as veterinary technologists. Both programs call for classroom work as well as extensive clinical training. Bachelor's-level students may be allowed to specialize in a particular area of study.

Career Veterinary Technician Veterinary Technologist
Education Requirements Associate's degree in animal science Bachelor's degree in animal science
Licensure and Certification Credentialing required in most states Credentialing required in most states
Job Growth for Veterinary Technicians/Technologists (2012-22)* 30% 30%
Median Salary for Veterinary Technicians/Technologists (2013)* $30,500 $30,500

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Animal Health Science Degree Programs

Animal health science degree programs are available at the undergraduate level as both associate's and bachelor's degree options, though bachelor's degree options may be more common. Typically, these programs are designed to prepare students to become veterinary technicians or technologists. Coursework in these programs typically focuses on fundamental concepts of veterinary technology, including anatomy and physiology, pathology, disease study and microbiology. Students may also take courses in clerical duties in and office procedures for veterinary facilities.

At the bachelor's degree level, students may have the opportunity to select a track of specialization, which could include scientific subjects like organic chemistry and neuroscience, or business subjects like accounting, finance and management. Clinical laboratory experiences are typically extensive and can train aspiring professionals in multiple settings, including those that involve radiography or surgical procedures.

Career Options

Veterinary technicians and technologists work closely with veterinarians and veterinary surgeons in clinical settings, and may perform organizational tasks in smaller practices. They may prepare and arrange surgical equipment. During procedures requiring general anesthesia, they may monitor an animal's vital signs. After surgical procedures, veterinary technicians may clean equipment, reorder supplies and advise owners on necessary precautions. Most positions require individuals to hold at least an associate's degree. They may also be required to pass a credentialing exam, such as the National Veterinary Technician (NVT) exam. Mandatory licensure, certification or registration of veterinary technicians and technologists varies by state.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for veterinary technicians and technologists was $30,500 as of 2013. The BLS expected employment for veterinary technicians and technologists to grow by 30% between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

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